“I was sitting in a restaurant in Paris, perfect place to begin ‘The Get Down,’ and I was looking over the shoulder of someone I was speaking to. And I saw a framed photograph, which I later realized it was from Jamel Shabazz, of these two kids. And they were in hip-hop stance,” Luhrmann tells TV critics. “I remember thinking in that moment, ‘Gee, how did so much creativity come from New York in that moment at that time? How did something so completely new, so totally unexpected, and so creative come about?’
“It was just a question really. It just stuck in my mind. And from that point on, I started trying to answer the question. I didn’t even think I’d make a show about it. And I just got more and more down that road.”
That trip down the road has ended with the series on the streaming service that will be available Friday, Aug. 12. Six episodes will be released now and six more will be made available at a later date.
“The Get Down” follows a South Bronx crew of teenagers trying to find their place in a world that is filled with violence, poverty and music. It’s in this world that the hip-hop, disco and punk formats took shape.
I can tell you about the recipe – the flour, the milk, the eggs, the vanilla and the secret ingredients – because I am one of the bakers.
Grandmaster Flash, on his place in hip-hop history
As Luhrmann began to search how the Bronx became such a focal point for the new musical genres and innovations, he found a central figure. Joseph Saddler, better known as Grandmaster Flash, is the pioneer of hip-hop DJing, mixing and cutting.
It wasn’t easy connecting with Grandmaster Flash. The music legend’s not a big film fan and had not seen Luhrmann’s films. Flash only became interested when he discovered the series would not be about what it was like becoming a music industry star.
Flash says the selling point was that the series examines the roots of the music.
“In his heart of hearts he felt like something like this should be told, because this is the missing years of what has now become a billion-dollar business. So the question is if hip-hop was a cake, then I cannot tell you how many people took a slice off that cake, being producers, fans, artists and the like,” Flash says. “But I can tell you about the recipe – the flour, the milk, the eggs, the vanilla and the secret ingredients – because I am one of the bakers, along with Kool Herc and Afrika Bambaataa.
“So for Baz to want to tell this story, I wanted to see the sincerity in his eyes, and I did see that. And I seen the passion in his eyes. And then we took this 17-month journey, along with Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, Nelson George. And we sort of kind of made it happen.”
The Get Down
- 12:01 a.m. Friday, Aug. 12, Netflix